The Press on Trial
UNION ACTIVITY in the early years of the war had resulted in conspicuous failures in the Virginia theater. In the West, however, the opposite had occurred; Northern arms had been so successful that almost the entire Mississippi River was in Union hands by the end of 1862. There was only one Confederate stronghold left preventing total Federal control: Vicksburg, Mississippi, high on bluffs overlooking the river.
On 8 December 1862 William T. Sherman and U. S. Grant met at Oxford, Mississippi, to plan a three-pronged attack to overwhelm the Mississippi Gibraltar. Grant, Sherman, and New Orleans-based Nathaniel Banks were to make a coordinated drive against Vicksburg with Sherman's forces to strike Chickasaw Bayou, the anchor of the Confederate right. The plan proved to be a failure. Grant's supply lines were cut, and he was unable to attack Vicksburg from the East. Banks's illness prevented his attack from the South, and Sherman was